Issue



Semiconductor Survivor Call for Entries


06/01/2009







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Pete Singer
Editor-in-Chief

These are difficult times for the semiconductor industry. Many would say the most difficult ever. Hopefully, we are nearing the end of the recession and prosperity will quickly return.

Are you a survivor? We want to know. In the spirit of CBS’s “Survivor” reality game show, we have elected to forego our usual award program this year and will instead be awarding “Semiconductor Survivor” awards. Winners will be announced at Semicon West in July. It’s not necessary for winners to be present to win, but those that are exhibiting at the show will be given a special immunity necklace.

Here are the rules:

  1. Provide a description in 300 words or fewer of how your company has overcome the unique challenge facing the semiconductor industry, emphasizing efforts to compete, innovate and achieve.
  2. Winners will be selected in three categories:
    1. Wafer Processing Equipment and Materials,
    2. Advanced Packaging Equipment & Materials,
    3. Semiconductor Manufacturers.
  3. Deadline for entry submission has been extended to June 29th.
  4. Send entries to Meredith Courtemanche at mcourtemanche@pennwell.com.
  5. Winners will be chosen by a panel of independent judges and the editorial staff.

Of course, surviving the downturn is not a reality show — it’s real life and we are painfully aware of the very real impact the recession has had on companies, including cost cutting and layoffs of friends and colleagues at all too many companies. Yet we are buoyed by the confidence expressed by so many that they will indeed not only survive the recession but come out of it “leaner and meaner” and in a strong competitive situation. Smart companies are using the recession to develop or promote product offerings that help their customers advanced critical technologies, improve performance, reduce costs or all of the above.

When will we be able to look back and say, yes, I survived? At press time, the most recent bit of optimism came from Intel chief Paul Otellini, saying second-quarter 2009 processor and semiconductor sales are “a little better” than expected and that the decline in PC sales has “bottomed out.”

Future Horizons is predicting a recovery in the second half of 2009 in the Annual Semiconductor Report. “There have so far been ten chip-market recessions and all but two have resulted in negative industry growth,” said Malcolm Penn, Chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons (and my favorite optimist). “2009 will mark the industry’s eleventh recession; a further period on negative growth is inevitable at an estimated minus 28%, similar in magnitude to 2001.”

“This semiconductor recession is unlike previous recessions and is directly attributable to the worldwide financial problems; it is not a structural problem of the industry itself,” he continued. “This factor will help to mitigate the global recession’s impact on the industry. On the other hand all markets and all regions were impacted quickly and at the same time. This leads us to predict a minus 28 percent negative growth in dollars for the global semiconductor market over 2008.”

Future Horizons believes that the industry is in structurally good shape to enter a recession. This should make the 2009 downturn shorter than it might otherwise have been, depending on when confidence in the global economy stops falling and that is expected to be during 2010.

Today, businesses prefer the ‘stop everything/do nothing’ approach, resulting in the dramatic fall in fourth quarter semiconductor demand, but this cannot continue forever. Future Horizons expects a gradual return to “business as usual” — whatever the new ‘usual’ turns out to be — once a degree of confidence returns to the markets. It is impossible to predict when the recovery will start, but it eventually will and, given the extent and abruptness of the fourth quarter 2008 decline, an overshoot is inevitable making the recovery process faster in coming, possibly as early as the second half of this year.

Let’s hope Malcolm is right. In the mean time, don’t forget to submit your entry for our contest.